South Africa: Boost for the Best

Top chemistry students at the University of Johannesburg can broaden their studies – and perhaps even extend them – thanks to Dow funding for the UofJ Chemistry Academy.

Every year, several second-year undergraduate students will be selected for the academy. Each will be paired with a post-graduate student to work on an advanced project while they complete their studies. When the time comes to graduate, they present their research to the department. The best will also be presented at the school's Undergraduate Research Symposium and potentially at national conferences.

The academy pays the students a stipend, allowing them to focus on their research without the pressure of finding non-academic work to pay bills. It might even enable them to move up to graduate school.

"The tendency is for students to complete their first degrees and then look for work to assist their families," says Ntyatyi Petros, Public Affairs manager for Dow in South Africa. "However, if they have a source of income there is less pressure on them, and they can then pursue post-graduate studies."

A recently approved grant from Dow will fund the stipends, as well as other expenses such as materials.

The Chemistry Academy has generated so much excitement on campus that there is already movement toward expanding it to other departments, including biochemistry and physics.